Highlanders reject Veainu lights up screen
Telusa Veainu was "a bit embarrassed" when Aaron Mauger treated the Crusaders to a repeat screening of his brilliant try against the Highlanders last Saturday night.
Veainu, called in as a late bench replacement for Adam Whitelock, produced one of the most spectacular tries sighted at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium when he scored in the 80th minute to earn the Crusaders a bonus point in the 40-12 win.
The movement, instigated by a quick throw-in from Dan Carter, involved a dazzling range of skills by Veainu - pace, a sidestep and an outrageous dummy.
No wonder, then, that Crusaders assistant backs coach Mauger felt compelled to replay it to the Crusaders squad yesterday. "Azza chucked it up on the big screen for everyone to have a look. I was a bit embarrassed and everyone was giving me a bit of flak about it," Veainu said. "But that's good, it keeps me grounded."
If the Crusaders scrape into the Super Rugby playoffs by a solitary competition point the coaching staff and his team-mates should slather Veainu with his favourite treats for a week.
You get the feeling that is the last thing he would want but it gives some idea of how valuable that try, the Crusaders' fourth of the game, could be for their season.
Veainu, who replaced left wing Zac Guildford in the 68th minute, tried to deflect some of the praise to right wing Tom Marshall. "All the unseen credit goes to Tom Marshall who ran alongside, which gave me the option to dummy him and fool Hosea Gear. It unfolded nicely."
When Highlanders wing Kade Poki showed him the outside Veainu chopped inside and blasted upfield before selling an outrageous dummy to Marshall.
"It's definitely instinct but I'm used to practising it with Izzy [Israel Dagg] and Zac [Guildford]. It's the backyard stuff you do when you visualise yourself out on the field.
"It's right up there - one of the best ones I have felt I have scored individually."
Fate played a part in Veainu, who has left Canterbury and will represent Hawke's Bay this season, being part of the Crusaders campaign.
He was expected to join the Highlanders' wider training group but was rejected because he failed a medical and was told he needed to have surgery.
But when Dr Deb Robinson returned from last year's All Blacks northern tour she contacted the New Zealand Rugby Union and declared him fit.
That changed everything.
The broken ankle suffered by Johnny McNicholl in Cape Town resulted in Marshall being recruited by the Crusaders.
Veainu was thankful for the intervention of Robinson, who is now the Crusaders doctor.
"Everything sort of fell into the right hands then.
"Yeah, the power of Deb Robinson."
- Fairfax Media
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